Once, the gods of the earth dwelled upon its surface, they danced upon its mountains and swam in its rivers. Though they made earth their dominion, they did not suffer the arrival of man and would not allow this new beast to look upon them. As men spread across the plains, the godswere driven first into the hills. As men scaled their slopes, the gods moved into the forest until, intime, even those were abandoned.
Eventually people forgot about the ancient gods as they made their life, generation after generation. That is, most forgot about them. In one city, Seattle, beyond the river Duwamish, lived Simone the Apple-Polisher. She studied the gods, memorizing their words and exalting their deeds. She poured over the ancient texts, performed the rituals in hopes of hearing their voices or gaining a glimpse of even their shadow. Above all, she hoped to one day look upon their faces.
Simone had an intern named Uther, with whom she shared the secret wisdom of the gods’comings and goings on the earth. She spoke to Uther of her desire to find the gods and stare upontheir visage. Uther cautioned Simone of the wrath of the ancient ones, of their hatred of man. “They should be happy to speak with me,” she counseled. “After all, I have studied their wisdom, I have spoken their words.”
Winter brought a year of plague to Seattle. Those in the city cursed rival cities and kingdoms as the streets went empty and the shops grew bare. They became socially distant and a darkness covered the town. “This is the hour of the ancient ones!” Simone told Uther. “The gods draw close and darken the skies and send the people into their homes so they might not be seen! But I can see!”
Indeed, it had been told in the Monsonic manuscripts of the return of the old gods, of stripping the earth of this low race, man. Uther and Simone packed their manuscripts and their ancient talismans and began a journey across the wastes to meet the returning ancient ones. They traveled through empty streets where local villagers would not meet their gaze, they crossed the broken bridge of West Seattle, risking its faulty footing and perilous heights.
Eventually they arrived at the great hole of Bertha-Kla, a nearly sheer descent of unknown depth and origin. Locals warned that is ill to stare into Bertha-Kla, much less attempt to explore its depths. Uther grew weary and afraid from the villagers’ words, but Simone the Apple-Polisher dismissed it as the superstition of peasants. As a learned one, she did not tolerate their fears or their beliefs.
As they descended into Bertha-Kla, a slow vapor, a miasma, enveloped Simone and her companion. It came on slowly, but steadily until they could not see but a few feet in front of them. The descent was indeed dangerous, but it was all Uther could do to keep up with Simone.
Once they were no longer in sight of the surface, no longer able to hear the sounds of the world above, Uther called out to Simone to turn back. “Don’t you hear it Uther? Don’t you hear them?” Uther strained his ears for any sound coming from the growing darkness in Bertha-Kla. As he strained, he began to hear it, a light and rhythmic drumming. Boom, boom, boom, growing in intensity as they moved further down.
“I hear them Uther! The gods call out, the gods await me!” Simone hurried her descent, quickly losing Uther in the vapors. Uther tried to keep up but her voice grew distant, “I hear them! I hear their drums!” In his hurry, Uther made a misstep and tumbled further down into the hole. As he regained his composure, Uther stared into the depths of Bertha-Kla, seeing something writhing in the darkness, shadows against the blackness of the pit. He heard Simone still calling out ahead of him, but he dared not travel any further.
“I have heard the gods!” Simone’s voice came now very distant to Uther, “Douglas, Erickson, the Dershang. Simone the Prophet has heard the voices of the gods! And I will stare upon their faces and be in their company!”
Uther could not hear the voices Simone heard, though he strained hard at the task. Briefly, Uther contemplated moving closer so that he too might hear their words, but he felt a spectral change in the air, as if the laws of the earth were bowing to greater laws. He looked up, the mouth of Bertha-Kla, once hidden by the unknown mists that had enveloped them, came clearly into view.
“I see them! I see the gods dancing!” Simone cried out, “They call for me!” As Uther stared at the sky, he saw the plague moon slip into an eclipse, an event predicted neither by the great astronomers of Seattle or by Simone the Apple-Polisher. As the moon disappeared from the sky, an eerie glow came from the depths of Bertha-Kla.
A loud shrieking cut through the air, “There is terror in the sky and the gods have revealed themselves to me! Their dancing grows wild and their screams have turned to laughter! I, Simone the Prophet, am with them!” Uther began to hear a piercing cry, a wail heard by no man before or since. “The other gods!” Simone’s voice became panic, “The other gods! The godsof the outer hells that guard the feeble gods of earth!”
Uther crumbled behind a rock, covering his ears, screaming, but he could only hear the wail and Simone’s cries, “Billendagates! Bezos! Paulallen! The vengeance of the infinite abyss! Look Away!.. Do Not See!.. Look Away!”
Uther cried out, but could hear nothing. He opened his eyes and saw every color at once, the red of fresh blood, the yellows and oranges of fire, the deep blue of the coldest ice, the abyssal blackness of the pit of Bertha-Kla... “I am falling! I am falling into the sky!”...
Uther did not know if minutes had passed or weeks when the noise finally stopped. As he brought himself to his feet, he noticed a white chalk covering his path in the dim light of the abyss. The drums, the shadows, the colors, all had vanished. As had Simone’s cries. Uther descended as far into Bertha-Kla as he dared, Simone the Apple-Polisher was gone.